My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.

People often say, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder”, but listening to Brian (in Enugu) go back and forth on a virtual call with EL (in Abuja), I’m convinced distance had little to do with the strong bond these men share. A casual encounter over ten years ago created a relationship built on the foundation of honesty, humour and love that runs real deep. Brian and EL aren’t just friends, they’re practically brothers or, as EL likes to say, “Twins”.

In this episode of My Bro, they talk about being each other’s soulmate, the depressive episode that threatened their friendship and the day they almost died.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane

Brian: We met twice before we became friends. My first recollection of meeting you was when my high school friend brought you to me and asked that we form a crew of guys to protect each other. I was standing there thinking, “Is this nigga asking us to form a gang?” You just stood behind him with your muscles and everything. 

We never formed this crew, and I didn’t see you again for a while. I know we met a second time. I just can’t remember where. 

EL: Yeah, it was at some random party. I looked at you and was expecting an accent or some bougie talk. Instead, you started blowing pidgin, and I was shocked. You also had so many funny stories I’m sure I developed abs laughing that night. I was like, “This guy is as crazy as I am, probably even worse.” I finally felt like I’d met someone who understood and would indulge my craziness at any level. 

Brian: I remember now! We couldn’t stop laughing that night. We also bonded over making music and decided to hit the studio to record a song together. Even though we’ve wiped that song off the internet, it was a dope jam. We will share new music when we’re ready. By the way, that was the day we almost died. 

EL: Oh shit! Fun times. LOL. 

Fast and Furious: Abuja Version

Brian: I remember we were recording in the studio when I gave my other friend, Nnanna, the keys to my car to get us shawarmas because mandem was hungry. By the time he got back, we’d finished recording, so I told him to drive so I could concentrate on texting my babe at the time. This guy started driving like James Bond for no reason. 

EL: Omo, I can’t forget because as soon as he pulled out of where we were parked, I knew shit was about to get real. Do you know me and the producer in the back seat wore our seatbelts? Who wears a seatbelt in the backseat, bro? 

Brian: LOL. We dropped the producer off, and that’s when the accident happened. I was focused on the bikini pictures my babe was sending me, so I didn’t even know what happened. I just looked up, and the car was spinning. EL, what happened, abeg? 

EL: Guy, where I fucked up was taking off my seatbelt to collect the aux chord. I wanted to play our song, as per, we don make hit. We were around Silverbird, it was raining, and I could swear this guy was taking a bend at 120km/hr. As soon as he started, I just shouted “Fuck” because I knew we were screwed. I remember you were screaming, “Nnanna”, and the Nnanna guy was shouting, “Jesus”. 

We kept spinning until we hit a tree, and I hit my head, compressing my spine. I came out of the car, but I couldn’t breathe. You came to me yarning shit like, “Look at me, bro. Don’t go into the light.” And I was lying on the floor thinking, “What the fuck? Can this guy shift so I can breathe?”

Brian: LOL. That day was wild. 

EL: My back still hurts today. 

Brian: I remember telling you if the devil heard one track and tried to kill us, we needed to drop a full album to pepper him some more. But till now, no album. 

EL: Life keeps getting in the way, but there’s still time. We must make that album. I’ve promised myself we’ll make one before my 35th birthday sha.  

Brian: Did you know I paid ₦80k to replace the streetlight we hit that day, and 11 years later, they still haven’t replaced it? 

EL: Have you forgotten we live in Nigeria? LOL. 

I remember the time you came through for me 

EL: One thing that really stood out to me when we started hanging out was how supportive you were of all the things I was doing at the time. You made it a habit of showing up at every event I was hosting and it wasn’t just showing up, you were there asking for ways you could make my job easier. 

I’ve always been the guy to run things on my own, so having someone showing concern and offering to help all the time was really new to me. You probably don’t know this, but the way you always hype me up and down got me one of my first major gigs. 

Brian: Wait, really? 

EL: Yeah. So I’d pulled up for an interview with this company, and after giving them the big talk about how I was the man for the job, the owner went into another office with some other guy to talk about me. The next thing I know, he comes out and asks me how much I want for the job. Bro, I had zero qualifications, but I just told him ₦400k, and he said, “Ok. How soon can you start?” I was confused because I felt I’d bullshitted my way into a major company. 

Months into the job, I was talking to the man, and he asked about my “light-skinned friend”. That’s when I started asking questions. Apparently, he’d overheard you talking to your friend who worked there about me and how there was nothing I couldn’t do. It was a random gist, but when I coincidentally showed up looking for a job, he confirmed with your friend if I was the same EL and just offered me the job based on everything you’d said. 

Brian: Oh wow. I remember we celebrated this job when you got it, but I had no idea about this backstory. 

EL: Bro, I didn’t know it at first either. When I found out, I was shocked because, what are the odds? I needed a job and I got it because you wouldn’t shut up about me. Imagine that?

Brian: That’s dope, man. Wow. You’ve come through for me so many times too. But I think the one that stands out to me was when I was going through some mental shit, and you dropped everything to come and live with me. I knew I needed help at the time, but with how I’m wired, I wasn’t open to receiving it, so I kept taking you for granted. 

You saw me at my lowest point, and even though other people would’ve yelled or fought with me, you were patient and calm. When you eventually couldn’t handle it anymore, you just quietly left, but not without reminding me you’d still be there whenever I needed you. I knew I’d fucked up, but how you handled everything made me respect you more. 

EL: I’m not going to lie, I was angry at the time. But more than anger, what I felt was fear. How you were closing yourself off from everyone around you reminded me of my brothers and how our relationship got fucked up. They had done the same thing years ago. At that moment, it felt like I was losing another brother, and it scared me shitless. 

All I wanted to do was help, but you weren’t opening up. It was tough for me. I have a terrible temper, but I still had to compose myself in the face of all the tantrums you were throwing. 

Brian: I’m surprised you didn’t fuck me up. LOL.

EL: Honestly… the only thing that held me back was the love I have for you. You’re my chosen family, my blood. I decided to walk away and give you space instead. But even as I was leaving, I felt a sense of guilt. I thought I should’ve done more and stayed with you, but at the same time, my head was getting messed up. 

Despite everything, I still wanted you to know I loved you, and I’d always be there when you needed me. 

How we resolve our differences

Brian: What I cherish the most about you is how you can correct me without making it feel like an attack. It’s always, “This is how you messed up”, and not, “You’re a failure”, or anything like that. The best part is, whether I want to hear the truth or not, you’re always there to tell it to me, but with love. 

Even after you left my house, all it took was one phone call to talk it out and move on. 

EL: I know you get a lot of criticism from other people in your life, so I make sure that’s not what I’m giving you. Instead, I try to help you understand where they’re coming from. If your parents are upset with you, I try to get you to see things from their perspective. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, it makes sense to them, and we can’t invalidate their feelings. 

Brian: Yeah, we’ve had moments when we had to sit each other down and tell the other person the truth. I appreciate that our friendship is based on us being honest with one another. 

EL: It’s our foundation. No matter how bad the situation is, once it’s me and you, we go run am. That’s our mantra. We don’t know where we’ll start, but we go run am

Navigating a long-distance friendship

EL: Let me start by saying you’re a selfish fool for leaving me in Abuja and moving to Enugu. 

Brian: But when we became friends, I was still going back and forth from Nigeria to England. I don’t think the distance has affected our relationship in any way. We don’t see each other much, but we always talk. 

EL: To be fair, I’m already used to you disappearing because, even when you were here, once you had a babe like this, I didn’t see you. Any small thing, “I’m with my madam.” Now that you’ve gone, I have my own madam so everyone will be fine las las. LOL. 

What holds this friendship together

Brian: We always root for one another. I genuinely want to see you win, so even when I’m supposed to feel left out, I don’t because your win is very much my win. 

EL: Same. It’s the love we have for each other, bro. No matter how angry we are at each other, we consistently lead with love and kindness. We’ve never had an actual outburst because of this. And that’s shocking for someone like me whose first instinct is always to start roaring up and down.

I want you to know

EL: I’ll go first because I’m not your mate. 

I want you to know I see you. I love you, and you’ll forever have my respect. I know you know this, but I want to remind you that whatever bullshit we’ve had in the past was all very important in creating the men we are today. You can look back and cringe, but never regret the past because we had beautiful moments together. 

I look forward to you being at you one billion percent because I can’t wait for people to see you the way I see you. You’re my blood, my twin, my guy and my soulmate. I love you, bro. 

Brian: You want me to cry? But, yeah, you already know how much I love you, so I’ll just say something you don’t get enough of, which is how proud I am of you and all you’ve accomplished. 

Most people don’t know what you’ve been through. I’ve seen you go through shit that would break me. Even when it’s not, you tell yourself it’s alright, and then, you go out there and make it alright. I’m so proud of you and want you to know everything will pay off in the end. 

I love you, EL. 

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